May 5, 2013

Living a rock 'n' roll dream

The local band Rupture the Fish performs for cash and prizes in the finals of the MAMM Slam teen band competition.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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The band Rupture the Fish performs in the finals of the MAMM Slam teen band competition at the Asylum in Portland. From left are Spencer Teachout, bass; Ben Nason, drums; Eamon Kelley, guitar; and Scott Ralston, guitar and lead vocals.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Members of the band Rupture the Fish listen to the announcements of the winners. At left is Scott Ralston, who won "best guitarist."

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below


The finals of the MAMM Slam, a competition of teenage rock bands hosted by the Maine Academy of Modern Music, were held on April 27. This is the story of one band’s journey from a fledgling group to finalists in that competition.


On a Tuesday afternoon before the finals at Scott's South Portland home, Mike Nason sits in the family room with Kay McKusick Ralston as their sons, Ben and Scott, practice for the MAMM Slam in the basement with their Rupture the Fish bandmates.

The floor vibrates a little as bassist Spencer Teachout plays a rumbling bass line for one of the band's funkier numbers, which might cause people of a certain age to think of an Ohio Players tune circa 1976.

But most of the band's other songs are in the punk genre, with quick riffs, a percussive drive and screaming lyrics.

Nason, a Coca-Cola delivery man who lives in Biddeford, waits to give Ben a ride home once band practice is over. Nason and McKusick Ralston know each other well, because their sons have been in various rock bands together for about three years. And the boys often need rides to practice.

Scott and Ben originally met through MAMM, which founder Jeff Shaw describes as a "school of rock" where young musicians come for lessons, for summer band camps and to join bands. Weekly lessons run about $100 a month, and camps can be $300 a week.

Like Little League, MAMM takes kids who want to play and assigns them to a team -- or in this case, a band. They're given a regular practice time at MAMM, for which they're billed, and tutored both in music and the art of running and marketing a band.

"I think it's great what they're learning, the teamwork that's involved," says McKusick Ralston, Scott's mother. Kay and her husband, Matt Ralston, not only let the band practice at their house but go to the shows, and have taken Scott to see some of his favorite bands, including Green Day.

Down in the basement, Rupture the Fish goes over songs for the MAMM Slam finals. All in stocking feet (they left their shoes upstairs to avoid tracking in dirt), they rip through some tunes with Scott singing and throwing in a maniacal laugh here and there, bouncing to the beat.

Above his head is a suspicious-looking tear in the ceiling, but Scott says it's not collateral band damage.

"It was my sister and I throwing balls around," he says.

Scott, a student at Waynflete School in Portland, met Ben, who goes to Biddeford High School, through MAMM, and they have been friends and bandmates ever since. Earlier this year, they contacted MAMM about finding some cohorts for their musical adventure.

They got hooked up with guitarists Eamon Kelley, 15, from Cape Elizabeth High School, and Spencer Teachout, 16, from Scarborough High. Spencer switched to bass -- because they needed a bassist -- and the band started playing together in February.

Just a little more than a month later, they found themselves in the preliminary rounds of MAMM Slam at the Big Easy nightclub in Portland, where they did well enough to move on to the finals at Asylum. The contest is co-sponsored by MaineToday Media, publisher of the Maine Sunday Telegram.

The band's name had come to Scott before the group was formed. One summer while frolicking in his grandparents' pool, he witnessed a fish-shaped chlorine dispenser rupture because of all the frolicking. He wrote down the words "rupture the fish" soon after, figuring they would some day make a good band name.

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Additional Photos

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Ben Nason, on drums, and guitarist Eamon Kelley perform with the band Rupture the Fish in the finals of the MAMM Slam teen band competition at the Asylum in Portland.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Lead vocalist and guitarist Scott Ralston belts out an original tune in the MAMM Slam teen band competition.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Scott Ralston in rehearsal.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Eamon Kelley in rehearsal

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer


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